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Unsung hero Kevin Klein helping push Rangers toward playoffs

Unsung hero Kevin Klein helping push Rangers toward playoffs
unsung-hero-kevin-klein-helping-push-rangers-toward-playoffs
NEW YORK -- Years from now, after Kevin Klein http://www.officialhockeyco.com/rick-nash-jersey-c-1_309_312.html retires from hockey, you'll find him sitting on a porch whittling wood or with his head under the hood of an antique car. Not that the 31-year-old veteran defenseman for the New York Rangers is contemplating retirement, but he has an exit plan and it involves family, cars, grease, wood and a bed and breakfast (more on that later). But in the meantime, he's focused on helping the Rangers reach the playoffs in hopes of a deep run to the Stanley Cup finals. He has been one of the more underrated players in the league for the two-plus seasons he has been in New York, but his contributions have been significant for the Rangers. "We know how good he is, but I don't know Dwight Buycks Authentic Jersey how much recognition he gets around the league," Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "He can play pretty physical and he's a great skater. He likes to join the rush and has a really good shot, probably one of the best shots on the team, and you've seen him beat goalies pretty clean and there's only one or two guys per team that can do that -- and he's one of them." Since being traded to the Rangers by the Nashville Predators on Jan. 22, 2014, Klein leads all Rangers blueliners with 18 even-strength goals, eight game-winning goals and an 11.6 shooting percentage. He also ranks second among NHL defenseman with at plus-41 since the start of the 2014-15 season. He is also tied for the team lead in average even-strength ice time (17:58). "I've made big strides since I got traded to New York and I've gotten a lot of opportunities, which means they have a lot of confidence in me and play me in most situations," Klein said. "We've got a great D corps and a great team overall. Playing with high-caliber guys like I do definitely benefits my game and they encourage us to jump up when we can and make plays. Last year before I got injured, I was really feeling like my game had gotten to a better level than in the past and I've tried to continue that into this year. The main thing is to play well for the team so we can get that playoff spot and make a deep run." Originally selected by the Predators in Dwight Gooden Kids Jersey the second round (37th overall) in the 2003 draft, the native of Kitchener, Ontario, played three seasons for Nashville's AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. Klein's first pro season, in 2004-05, Admirals head coach Claude Noel saw the rookie's potential and had a closed-door meeting with him. "Coming out of junior, you don't know what to expect. You play a certain game in junior and I was a little more offensive and a power-play guy. I got to the American league, he brought me into his office and we had a good conversation," Klein said. "He said, 'This is how I think you'll make it to the NHL, from my experience, and I would like you to commit to this type of game -- defense first -- and defend well and play hard on the puck and I think you'll have a long career.' It's nice when a coach comes in and tells you that. "You don't know what to expect and I was young, I don't think I was even 20 yet, and I took [his advice] to heart. We had a lot of leaders on that group because it was a lockout year and we had some guys down from the NHL and you learn a lot. I learned a ton. Over three seasons, I played over 200 games in the American league, which was good for me. You don't want to play there. You want to make that jump. I had to pay my dues." He learned how to be a pro http://www.authenticyankeesshop.com/authentic-28-joe-girardi-jersey.html in the AHL, especially the mental part of the game. "All of those things have benefited me now," he said. "Looking back, you might not realize it then, but now you think about those things and how it prepped you for the future."

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